Cover Copyright Question

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sierramcconnell
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Cover Copyright Question

Post by sierramcconnell » June 21st, 2011, 11:01 am

Basic and simple question. It's been debated I think, but never actually answered over on the doll forum I frequent.

What is the copyright of a photograph of a doll I take? And if I wanted to use said photograph for business purposes, is there something I have to do?

After all, there are a ton of companies out there that use BJDs for selling clothing, props, jewelry, and other items with just a simple 'doll shown in photo is'.

But what if I wanted to make a cover with my dolls? I painted them, set the eyes, hair, and made the clothing myself. Basically, the only thing I didn't do is make the mold of the doll. And one of the dolls is actually from a defunct company that no longer exists. The sculpter went off to form his own company.

So I guess I'm asking, could I use them in some form for the cover?
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Holly
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Re: Cover Copyright Question

Post by Holly » June 21st, 2011, 6:04 pm

You can contact the U.S. Copyright Office and ask them. See the website for the live links.

http://www.copyright.gov/help/

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Doug Pardee
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Re: Cover Copyright Question

Post by Doug Pardee » June 21st, 2011, 7:22 pm

It's a complicated situation, and I'm not a lawyer. You probably should invest in a visit to appropriate legal counsel if you want to go forward with this.

That said, here are some of the factors (assuming US laws apply) as I understand them.
  1. You hold the copyright to the photo, by virtue of having taken it after January 1, 1978. The only exception would be if the photo were taken under a "work for hire" contract (not applicable here).
  2. That means that nobody else can copy the photo without your permission.
  3. It doesn't necessarily mean that you can use the photo yourself. There may be rights associated with the content of the photo, which is the issue here.
  4. When you paint and dress up the doll, you're making a "derivative work". Again, while the doll creator can't use your work without your permission, you might not be able to use their work without their permission.
  5. For copyright, the main limitation regards usage in advertising and promotion of a different product. In general, you could use the picture to advertise your dolls, but not necessarily to advertise your book.
  6. Copyright isn't the only consideration. There are trademarks, trade secrets (not likely applicable here), publicity rights (for people, not applicable here), etc.
  7. The safe approach is to get a property release (for subjects like your dolls, or buildings, etc.) or a model release (for people).

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Watcher55
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Re: Cover Copyright Question

Post by Watcher55 » June 21st, 2011, 10:20 pm

Do you buy the parts of the dolls at craft/hobby stores or are you redressing Barbie or some other trademarked doll? I don't know what the answer would be either way, but it might make a difference.

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sierramcconnell
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Re: Cover Copyright Question

Post by sierramcconnell » June 21st, 2011, 10:37 pm

They are molded resin dolls from overseas BJD companies, then I paint their faces on and customize them (hair, eyes, and clothing).

For reference, one character I have is this mold. Cherishdoll Hope Type Favian, only he was blank and naked when I got him. I did all the work and made this.

So it's not trademarked like you think. :)
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